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The confident cook

Bubbe’s brisket 2.0 cooks long and slow the night before the Seder

Sweet-and-sour Passover brisket with apricots and carrotsSally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

This slow-cooked brisket gets its sweet-and-sour tang from vinegar, brown sugar, and apricots. Make it the day before you plan to serve it, which not only gives you a little breathing space for the Seder menu, but also lets the sauce mellow and makes the meat easy to slice.

Start with a flat-cut beef brisket — this is the leaner cut — and season it generously with salt and pepper. Brown it well in a pot that can go into the oven. Soften onions and garlic in the same pan to capture all the meaty brown bits, add the sweet-and-sour elements with the dried fruit, and transfer the meat to a low oven for four hours (the kitchen will perfume the house). A long, slow braise will make the brisket meltingly tender. Strain the sauce to press out all the flavor of the onions and apricots. Store the sauce and meat separately in the refrigerator, so the fat in the sauce solidifies. The next day, it’s a cinch to lift off the fat cap. Slice the cold meat against the grain and reheat the slices in the sauce with long, slender carrots so both absorb the sweet flavors. Serve with steamed small potatoes sprinkled with parsley. Think of this as bubbe’s brisket 2.0.


Sweet-and-sour Passover brisket with apricots and carrots

Serves 6

1flat-cut brisket (3½ to 4 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2tablespoons olive oil
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
2large onions, halved and sliced
½cup sherry vinegar or white-wine vinegar
¼cup brown sugar
½cup canned crushed tomatoes
8dried apricots
3cups chicken stock
2bunches slender carrots, peeled and left whole
2tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. In a large, flameproof casserole that will hold the brisket flat, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and brown for 4 to 5 minutes on a side. Transfer to a platter.

3. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium heat and add the garlic and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften.


4. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, tomatoes, apricots, and stock. Bring to a boil. Return the brisket to the pan, cover, and transfer to the oven.

5. Cook the brisket for 3½ hours. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 30 minutes more, or until the meat is very tender. (Total cooking time is 4 hours.)

6. Transfer the meat to a large flat container or a platter. Cover with the lid or foil and refrigerate overnight.

7. Set a strainer over a bowl. A few ladles at a time, strain the sauce, pressing the sides of the strainer with a rubber spatula until the pulp is almost dry. Discard the pulp. Transfer the sauce to a container and refrigerate overnight.

8. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Remove and discard the fat from the sauce.

9. In a wide skillet over medium-high heat, bring the sauce to a low boil. Add the carrots, cover, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until almost tender, adding water to the pan if necessary.

10. Slice the brisket against the grain and transfer the slices to a baking dish. Add the carrots to the dish and spoon the sauce on top.

11. Cover with foil and reheat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat and sauce are both hot. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with boiled potatoes and the remaining sauce on the side.

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at